Stone Animals About Town

July 2, 2013 / Art & Archaeology
Italy

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In a country where symbols and stories in art and sculpture abound, it is understandable that the historical Italian urban landscape was filled with animals.

Some animals were on display as symbols of the cities, like the griffin (half lion, half eagle) of Perugia and the lion of Venice.

Griffin, the symbol of Perugia
Griffin, the symbol of Perugia
Others, carved into the stone façades of churches were decorative reminders of the importance of animals in their daily lives, such as horses and bulls (sometimes these represented the Butcher’s Unions).

There were animals with religious symbolism, such as the Evangelists – the winged lion (Saint Mark), the eagle (Saint John); and the winged ox (signifying sacrifice, service and strength) for Saint Luke.

And often, animals were positioned as guardians, usually in the form of the courageous lion, as seen in front of the castle in Norcia and the Arsenale in Venice. However, the real story of the lions sitting under the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II (guarding the King or the Piazza del Duomo of Milan?) will probably forever remain with the square’s 19th century architectural planner, Giuseppe Mengoni.

Lion of Norcia in front of the Castellina
Lion of Norcia in front of the Castellina
Lions of Venice Guarding the Arsenale
Lions of Venice Guarding the Arsenale
Horse and Ox on Façade of Cathedral of Siena
Horse and Ox on Façade of Cathedral of Siena

Lion under the statue of Victor Emmanuelle II in Milan
Lion under the statue of Victor Emmanuelle II in Milan

Jean Tori

by Jean Tori

Artist- Art website: www.jeantoriartwork.com Art blog: www.jeantori.com Design company: www.kimonorabbit.com Jean also rents holiday houses in her medieval hamlet in Umbria at www.caiporri7.com.

13 Responses to “Stone Animals About Town”

  1. louise

    Now that you mention it, there sure are a lot of animals out there! Thank you for the article and the great pics.

    Reply
  2. Evanne Brandon Diner

    How about a few monsters? There are animals of an outrageous sort in the park in Bomarzo which people visit from all over the world. Not as elegant as yours here, but fun and worth a visit. Thanks for your great note, Jean.

    Reply
    • Thank you Evanne for your message! Love the idea of monsters! You should do a note! I’ve heard of Bomarzo and seen a few pictures, but never been. On the to do list. Ciao, Jean

      Reply
  3. Evanne Brandon Diner

    GB…I’d love to have my email published any time, but understand if you think it’s a bad idea. Hope all is well with you. Big hugs and hi to Mom.

    Reply
  4. Evanne Brandon Diner

    to Jean,
    I did a story years ago about the monster park in Bomarzo, but am sure there is room for another. GB, can you find it and link to it? Thanks so much if you can.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the link, am laughing at a wee memory loss because now I remember where I saw the photographs!! They were yours!!
    take care, Jean

    Reply

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